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Sick of winter? Focus on what's possible

Weather got you down? You aren't alone. But there are things you can do to help battle winter fatigue.

Local fitness, mental health and nutrition experts say all wellness areas need attention, no matter how depressing the weather may be. The key is to focus on what's possible, not what isn't.

"We want to acknowledge that it's cold, but we also focus on what we can do, not things that we can't do," said Jodi Ramberg, a staff counselor at the UND Counseling Center. "(It's) just finding ways to shift our thinking away from the negativity of the cold."

Staying active

"The issue with the winter is it's, what, like it's dark, right?" said Anthony Morando, manager of Altru System's Human Performance Center. "It gets dark early, it's dark when you wake up, it's like medieval times, way back when. You want to go outside, but it's freezing. You want to get into a routine, but it's not allowing you to."

Morando has several recommendations for ways people can stay active indoors.

Join a gym, he said, or hire a coach. People also can invest in their own exercise equipment or find online workout videos. For Morando, it's all about routine.

"If I don't have any groundbreaking ideas, it's because I don't think there are any," Morando said. "It's simple. Fitness is simple—fitness should be simple, it shouldn't be complex, but simple is hard, because it's consistency. Can you move every day, and can you find a place to move every single day?"

Nutrition also is important, Morando said, and comfort food can also be nutritious.

"Invest in maybe making some healthy soups," he said. "Invest in maybe making some healthy crockpot pieces," and experiment with more vegetables or lean meats.

"You can get really creative in the winter. The other day I made chicken soup, and I felt like a hero."

Looking for light

The short days in winter can affect mental health, and Ramberg said people should absorb as much sunlight as they can.

"You can keep your curtains open and get as much natural light as you can that way, and you can also take a look at sun lamps, to try to supplement energy," Ramberg said. "Because we're so lacking here in sunlight, it's important to get it naturally, or through a lamp."

People also can set up their indoor environments in a way that creates "good energy" using plants and aromatherapy, she said.

"And then it's just about doing other things that can keep you warm," she said, such as baths, showers and drinking warm tea.

"It's the things that we know we need to do," Ramberg said. "Good mental health goes back to so many things, like getting a good amount of sleep, being physically well and eating well. And it all goes back to the serenity prayer, focusing on the things I can change rather than the things I can't change."

Emily Allen

Allen joined the Grand Forks Herald to cover local government and politics May 2018. Call her at 701-780-1102, email her at eallen@gfherald.com or follow her on Twitter, @Emily_theHerald.

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